1st runner up: The Man in the Chair

The Man in the Chair – (Paranormal – True Story) – Word Count 579

The house was a free-standing end Terrace in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe and to say it had seen better days would be a gross understatement.  Originally built in the mid 1890’s my mother had bought it on a whim. Such houses in the mid 1960’s were cheap as chips and considered to be almost slums but my mother had dreams of bringing it back to its former glory.  The house stood two stories high with two chimney stacks still pointing upwards though no longer in use, their brickwork sitting precariously atop the roof, and its wrought iron balcony balustrades rusted almost beyond repair.  It stood proudly dishevelled at the end of a line of eight equally dilapidated terrace houses. Some were occupied, some were squats and I honestly think some still had their original occupants living there!  

There had always been a shroud of mystery surrounding the old house – strange noises, floor boards creaking, even when no one else was there – or perhaps especially when no one else was there – soft breezes would somehow find their way through securely locked windows and doors, and lights would mysteriously be left on or turned off.

Internally, the hallways were dark and gloomy, dim lightbulbs casting eerie ghostlike shadows down the timber staircase, now just a faded memory of its original magnificence. There were landings on different levels at the top of the stairs that lead off to various sized rooms which my mother rented to University students – cheap and cheerful and quite the bohemian lifestyle for them and they loved it!  The original front door had long been abandoned in favour of simply walking through the ceiling to floor sash and chord windows which opened from the front courtyard and lead into the main living room.

I also lived there for a period of time – loved the lively conversation, academic discussion and regular Sunday afternoon ‘gathering of the minds’ but HATED THE HOUSE!

On this particular night I had just arrived home from work, walked in through the aforementioned front windows and was making my way through to the kitchen.

“Hello” I said as I passed him on my way.   I didn’t know who he was but assumed he must have been a friend of my mother’s.   Sunk back into the worn old armchair in the corner, he was a quite old. Scrappy grey beard, tatty overcoat and a funny felt hat pulled down over his eyes.   He didn’t answer. “Bit rude” I thought and kept walking.

“Who’s that?” I asked 

 “You saw him too.” my mother said, as I walked into the kitchen.  More of a statement than a question.


“The man in the chair – you saw him too”

“Well…yes.  What? What do you mean ‘I saw him too’?”   

“The old man” she said “the one that sits in the corner chair.  I’ve seen him a few times and now you’ve seen him too. Right?”

“Yes, but I thought he was a friend of yours.  I don’t understand. You don’t know him?”

“Sometimes I get home and he’s already sitting there, and sometimes I’ll walk into the kitchen and the chair will be empty, and then when I come back – there he is.   Funny…..he doesn’t scare me, kind of a sad old thing really”

I backed up into the loungeroom to take a second look.  

The chair was empty.  

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